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Just The Facts Ma'am, Just The Facts
By Paula Carpenter - 04/06/2003 - 08:53 PM EDT

Does it seem to you, ever, that 'professional' music industry types give you vague and general advice? That everyone is happy to be a cheerleader, but no one has some real, here's-the-phone-number-call-these-people kind of help? Hopefully that is what I may be able to offer a little of to you today, with this article.

I get quite a few clients for consultations and songwriting critiques, who, once they have honed their songs to a point where they are sounding really professional, ask the all-important question: where do I go from here?

It certainly depends on your goals. If you want to be a regional singer-songwriter, perhaps perfecting your songs and honing your talent, the quality of your recording projects, and the charisma and pizazz of your live performances, is the end goal -- along with, of course, increasing your album sales -- the internet is a great tool for that! If you don't have a website, shame on you, you should. You also, of course, need a means to get people to DISCOVER your website. Have you tried the local radio stations?

If you want to be a nationally known, famous songwriter with a long string of hits with established artists, you have a ways to go. If you're already there, you shouldn't be reading this. Call me, let's chat. I want to how YOU got where YOU are!

OK, as promised: Here are some actual, helpful Companies, Events, and Organizations or Websites, which I believe can help you reach your goals:

1. ASCAP --- The American Society of Composers and Publishers --- see www.ascap.com for various locations and branches, including email addresses, phone numbers, calendars of events, etc. This is one of the several Broadcast Royalty societies (BMI is another one, as is SESAC) which pay songwriters and publishers for the airplay of their copyrighted and published materials, when performed in a venue which is monitored...ie, cable, TV, internet, radio, concerts, CELL PHONE TUNES, etc. You may notice that many artists write their own music (some are excellent writers, some are not) -- in addition to being able to 'say what they feel', artists who write their own songs benefit hugely financially. When a song is singled, and gets airplay, the artist will make MUCH more money if he/she is a songwriter, not just the singer!

ASCAP also offers many, many helpful seminars and workshops for songwriters to use to grow and network -- take advantage of them! They are also instrumental, in many instances, in 'hooking up' talented songwriters with the appropriate publisher contacts. The benefits are endless.

2. NSAI --- Nashville Songwrtiers Association International -- for the actual phone numbers, go to: www.nsai.com. This is a great organization for working with songwriters, support, education, and networking, plus alot of public and political support for songwriter/copyright issues. Though the name says NASHVILLE, there are branches around the country, and you'd be wise to hook up with the one nearest you.

3. Integrated Copyright, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee -- John Barker, President and Co-founder.

If your song catalogue generates at least $25,000.00 per year, you may want to consider using ICG (Integrated Copyright) as your Copyright Administrator, rather than going through a publisher. Being a publisher myself, some may wonder why I tell you this. Well, you need
to be generating a nice sum from your royalties, before you're ready for ICG. You also need to be very well-connected in terms of being able to PITCH your own songs...ICG will take care of the 'paperwork' of contracts, mechanical liscensing, royalty collection and distribution, audit services, etc....the type of things the copyright dept. of a major publisher would do, only the publisher does this usually for 50% of the songs' generated income. However....ICG (and companies like them) does this for 10%...but remember ... they don't pitch your songs. You have to be able to get them cut, in order for this to make sense for you. See: www.icgcopyright.com.

I am personally acquainted with the founder of this company, use their copyright administrative services, and cannot say ENOUGH GOOD THINGS about them and their company!

4. Musiccontracts.com --- If you have decided to go it on your own, but need some practical guidance in terms of access to DOCUMENTS, try this website! For a fee, you download music industry-related documents. I have not personally tried it, but I know of it's existence, so see what you find!

5. talentandbooking.com --- A great website that will, for a fee, issue you a subscription which gives you access to information on artists, who their management is, who their record company is, who their PR people are, including phone numbers, emails, and much useful information for a songwriter wanting to pitch songs, or make contact. Try it, you'll find out! I am familiar with this service, have used it in the past, and find it very informational and helpful!

6. Country Music Association --- www.cmaworld.com --- a very helpful organization for those interested in a career in Country Music. Sponsor of the CMA Awards, and Fan Fair in Nashville, it has grown and expanded over the years. Check out membership here.

7. NARAS -- the Grammy people! -- www.grammy.com -- Go here to find out useful information, join as an associate (unless you have had six songs commercially recorded, at which time you can join as an active voting member) and find out music news, updates, information on meetings, chapters near you.

8. Check out the INDIE websites which abound, and which can be very useful -- offering exposure, music documents, networking, and more!

9. Music Row Magazine --- musicrow.com -- Subscribe! Go to Nashville! Get to know the people in the front office! It's fun and it helps everyone to network.

10. Gospel Music Association --- www.gospelmusic.org -- a must-join for serious composers of Christian music. They offer the PRAISE IN THE ROCKIES Seminar in Estes Park, Colorado, where I got my start, and GMA WEEK in Nashville, which is a week of Seminars on different tracks: Industry (songwriters, artists, etc.) CMVR (retailers) , and more! There are Luncheons, nightly concerts, followed by LATE-NIGHT showcases all around town, and tons of networking opportunities!

11. Write About Jesus--- www.writeaboutjesus.com -- Founded by my friend and cowriter, Sue Smith, this is a great Christian Music song workshop in the greater St. Louis, Mo, area, held annually in October. Check it out. Tell her "Paula sent me"...

12. American Songwriter Magazine --- www.americansongwriter.com -- go there, see it, subscribe, use it. Find others like it, use them too!

13. SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST-- AUSTIN, TEXAS -- What a great Seminar/Event/Bash/Concert/Life-changer! You HAVE TO GO! Of course, I am a proud Texan, but I don't care where you hail from...come to SXSW...it's the best!

There are MANY songwriting-type seminars: Jason Blume's, NSAI's, ASCAP sponsored events, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum. Just find the ones you like, sign up, and go!

Last and most important (to me!) --

Starbright Music and Creative Group's DETAILED SONG CRITIQUES and CAREER CONSULTATIONS have proved a very effective and helpful tool for our many clients. We cannot count the number of happy, grateful letters and emails we get from clients who have found our honest yet compassionate critiques of their work, had helped them past the 'amateur glitches' they had been falling into. As our company grows, and we get our SEMINARS and RETREATS established, we hope to continue to prove ourselves as a LONG-TERM, MUST-USE tool in the repertoire of great songwriters everywhere! Remember to come see us at: http://www.starbrightmusic.com!

Actually, the list of helpful orgs out there is endless You can find out much info yourself by getting online and spending some serious search time. You can contact us, and we will be happy to help you with specific questions. To list each asset/information tool we have, would take many, many pages, and WAY too much time, so let me just encourage you to GET OUT THERE AND SEARCH AWAY!

I trust this will give you some REAL, HANDS-ON help and that you will email me with any questions you have!

The music industry is changing, no doubt about it. The internet, much as we love it, has opened up all sorts of new and problematic areas for publishers and record companies, and therefore, for songwriters.
With the downloading and piracy issues, none of us knows exactly what the future may bring, and my gut tells me that the regional and indie folks, formerly perhaps not considered as 'inside' as the label-signed 'pros', will indeed have their heydey, if they (you?) are not already having it! As much as the internet is a problem for those who pirate our music, it is SUCH an avenue to market it as well! Use it!

Whatever happens, one thing is constant: Writing great songs is far, far better than writing mediocre ones -- there is no excuse for an intelligent person writing bad songs. If it's worth saying, it's worth saying well.

So, whether you use these tips I've given in order to try to 'get that publishing deal' after you've honed your songs, or to write BETTER songs to put on your indie project, to sell your music online, or wherever, do this for me: WRITE AS FINE A SONG and as TOUCHING a SONG, as you POSSIBLY CAN!

Smiles to all, and stay safe.

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